LIFE? Masters? The state of golf? Legend Ben Crenshaw has some thoughts
Ben Crenshaw is worried about the state of golf and the Masters, where, through two victories, he may have gained his most fame.
And he also has a thought about LIV Golf, the reason for the concern. On Friday, in an appearance on the Golf Channel’s Golf todaythe 19-time PGA Tour winner was asked where he wants the Saudi-backed series to go next.
“I’d like to — I don’t know,” Crenshaw began, in response to co-host Damon Hack’s question. “I wish people could appreciate what the game means to so many people. What it means to these guys who played their whole careers on tour, trying to climb the ladder, trying to get better, trying to beat each other in competitions.
“The focus on that is hopefully not lost because the pure competition, whether you’re talking about four majors and how you stack up against the rest of your career, or the Masters — I wish the focus was on the pure competition. I don’t know where it goes from here , because it’s been on people’s minds, and we’ll just have to see. I just don’t know where we’re going.”
Crenshaw’s comments come as LIV enters its second year of play, and the PGA Tour begins the season with a series of changes largely in place to prevent membership from drifting to the upstart. The Masters also recently made a move when they announced there would be no change in qualifying criteria – meaning Tour and LIV golfers will play Augusta National together in April – and on Golf todayCrenshaw was asked by co-host Eamon Lynch if he thought this year’s first major could be a circus.
“I certainly hope not, Eamon,” Crenshaw said. “It is a tournament where the champion can change his whole life. It is a life-giving memory, there is no doubt about that. But I hope the focus is on the champion and the tournament. But I don’t know. I simply don’t know. I’ve been worried about it, I’ll be honest.”
Then there’s the Champions Dinner, and if there’s any question that the tournament could get wild, just imagine the atmosphere from the room where the past winners – including six current LIV players – gather on the Tuesday leading up to the event. Even world No. 5 Jon Rahm, who has never won a green jacket, was waiting for his meal.
“One thing I keep coming back to [laughing], and it’s probably just fun for me, but I think the Masters Champions Dinner is going to be a little tense compared to how it’s been in the past,” Rahm said this week at his pre-Tournament of Champions press conference. “So I keep thinking about it because I wish I could be there and just see how things work.”
“I don’t know what’s going to happen,” he told Hack. “Our job is to honor the champion, Scottie Scheffler, not only for winning the tournament, but for an incredibly amazing career and year he had last year; emerged as one of the best players in the world. Our job is to honor him; it’s his night. Each of us has earned a lifetime exemption in that tournament, but our job is to honor the current champion, Scottie.”
Crenshaw’s sharpest words, however, may have come after a question about the state of golf. Here is the exchange between him and Lynch further Golf today.
“Ben, you joined the PGA Tour back in 1973, competed out there for more than 40 years,” Lynch began. “How do you feel when you look around the golf landscape now when you obviously see this creation of LIV Golf; do you see a lot of division out there on the PGA Tour? What is your reaction to all this?”
“Eamon, as you imagine, you can probably imagine how I feel,” Crenshaw said. “I owe my life to golf. I don’t like what’s happening, I have to be honest. I don’t like to see breakups that have been combined for a long time. I happen to believe that there are things in golf and in life that are more important than money.
“I have a lifetime of friendships and memories that will last me, but I just don’t like that — you know, golf so far has stayed above a lot of things that have been disruptive to the game, but I don’t do it like what happening. I wish it was different and we’re seeing it play out in a game that I’ve loved and a lot of people have loved. I think the best competition is on the PGA Tour, no doubt about it. I think we’ve seen great leadership , and Justin Thomas and Rory McIlroy can’t applaud them enough.
“I just hate that these relationships are torn apart. I don’t like that at all.”
Editor’s Note: To view the Golf Today interview with Crenshaw, please click here.